In advance of the Oct. 23 Academic Technology Fair, Bryn Mawr Now sat down with the College’s new Chief Information Officer & Director of Libraries Gina Siesing to find out more about some of the technologies that will be featured.
What are some of the tools and technologies that will be highlighted at the fair?
We’ll be talking about Moodle, which many faculty members are using comfortably but that has a lot of collaboration features beyond file sharing that not everyone might know about. We’ll also have the classroom response systems, or clickers, at the fair. There are a number of faculty members using those to gauge basic understanding of material and they can be very helpful in situations like in-class ethical conversations where students and faculty can see a snapshot of perspectives before and after a class discussion. Collections from our Digital Archives will be featured—these are wonderful resources to use in courses and also models for the kinds of projects that faculty, students, and staff colleagues can build together to showcase and share their research. WordPress, which is used for multiple purposes across campus, including reflective blogging and website creation, will be highlighted, along with projects like Serendip and services such as lecture capture and Eduroam for secure wireless while traveling to other academic institutions. The fair is a chance to meet many of the wonderful people who create and support academic technology services at Bryn Mawr and to be introduced to terrific self-service resources such as Atomic Learning.
As a new member of the Bryn Mawr community, is there anything happening here that you’re particularly interested in learning more about?
The work Bryn Mawr has been doing with blended learning has been phenomenal. The idea of using a course’s online component to free up the classroom for project work and in-depth faculty and student interaction seems to me to be very much in line with the ideals of a liberal arts education. Bryn Mawr has been the lead institution on a blended learning project that includes 40 liberal arts institutions, and I look forward to figuring out all the ways Information Services can support this important curricular innovation.
What are some things you see yourself or IS focusing on in the near future?
One of the things we’ll be thinking a lot about is digital scholarship. How do we create an environment where faculty, students, and staff can partner together on digital liberal arts projects? There is a Mellon-funded Tri-College digital humanities project that I’ll be actively involved with, and one of the big questions is how we share expertise across the consortium in a more sustainable and scalable way. There is also this larger question of how do liberal arts colleges—which are particularly well poised to help people with projects that bring research and teaching and learning so closely into alignment—make sure that we’re well-represented and leaders in digital scholarship overall. In our broader liberal arts consortia nationally, we are participating in planning discussions meant to take digital scholarship initiatives from their wonderful early history of deep investment in local projects to a new scale of broad engagement, shared expertise, and reusable tools and platforms to enable contemporary scholarship.
I’m personally really excited about the use of geographical information systems to do research across disciplines at the College. GIS is an important set of tools for understanding and visualizing data, and it’s a broadly applicable set of skills that is important for learning, research, and many contemporary professions.
I’ll be focused with many others at the College on the Digital Bryn Mawr Task Force recommendations, shaping implementation plans, and bringing those goals to fruition in the upcoming years.
Anything else you can think of that the community might be interested in?
With the creation of LILAC, we’ve been thinking about how we might better represent the work students do for IS, both in IT and in the libraries, in a way that could be useful to them in their career exploration. I want to see how we can team up with LILAC and frame that work experience in a way that helps students think about the professional skills that they’re developing through their work with our teams.